A conference on international Girls in ICT Day took place at Europe Hotel in Baku, with the support of IREX and IMS. The conference was attended by female students from various regions of Azerbaijan, as well as representatives from local and international organizations, and the Ministry of Communications and Information Technologies.
IMS project manager Gulnara Akhundova and IRFS chairman Emin Huseynov told the participants about the Youth Media Center which was launched with the support of IMS early this year. They encouraged the girls at the event to get involved in the Youth Media Center programs and events.
IREX Azerbaijan Chief of Party Angela Nicoara welcomed the participants to the conference, and commented that the promotion of ICT is a major priority, especially in creating opportunities to advance women's knowledge of information technology and internet use.
"Women-as-internet-users" has not yet become the norm in Azerbaijan, which lags behind Russia and Ukraine, as well as Western Europe, said the conference coordinator Gunel Hasanova. In these countries, 60-70% of internet users and participants in ICT are women of all ages. In Azerbaijan, according to 2010 statistics, 66.8% of internet users are men. Among women, the majority of internet users are between the ages of 15 and 30.
International Girls in ICT Day was founded on April 8th 2011 by the International Telecommunication Union, and is held annually on the fourth Thursday of April. This day is set up in appreciation of the interests and strengths of girls, and seeks to encourage them to choose a profession in the field of information and communication technologies.
In this sense, it is no coincidence that IREX has focused on the regions of Azerbaijan where orthodox stereotypes about the role of women in society are strongest, and the potential of ICT is more limited. In the 19 regions, Public Information Centers (PICs), with education for girls in the field of ICT, were opened. For example, last year in Sumgait, approximately 11,000 women studied ICT in the PIC; and in Imishli, almost 5,000. Some of the girls at the conference presented their videos on topics of social importance, such as the environment.
They also spoke about obstacles to internet access. For example, in Lankaran's school #9, which has 700 students, there are only 15 free-standing computers, and in the village of Soganverdi in Barda, a classroom with 30 computers is kept locked.
Ministry representative Novruz Mammadov acknowledged problems associated with access and speed of the internet, but added a statement from the Minister of Communications Ali Abbasov, which claims that by 2015, internet access will be available almost nationwide, and the quality will be noticeably better.
Video Description: GENDER INEQUALITY PREVAILS ON THE INTERNET